Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Best Actor in a Television Series, Miniseries, or Motion Picture Made for Television
In the first ten years of his life, Raymond Burr moved from town to town with his mother, a single parent who supported her little family by playing the organ in movie houses and churches. An unusually large child, he was able to land odd jobs that would normally go to adults. He worked as a ranch hand, a traveling tinted-photograph salesman, a Forest service fire guard, and a property agent in China, where his mother had briefly resettled. At 19, he made the acquaintance of film director Anatole Litvak, who arranged for Burr to get a job at a Toronto summer-stock theater. This led to a stint with a touring English rep company; one of his co-workers, Annette Sutherland, became his first wife.
After a brief stint as a nightclub singer in Paris, Burr studied at the Pasadena Playhouse and took adult education courses at Stanford, Columbia, and the University of Chunking. His first New York theatrical break was in the 1943 play Duke in Darkness. That same year, his wife Sutherland was killed in the same plane crash that took the life of actor Leslie Howard. Distraught after the death of his wife, Burr joined the Navy, served two years, then returned to America in the company of his four-year-old son, Michael Evan Burr (Michael would die of leukemia in 1953). Told by Hollywood agents that he was overweight for movies, the 340-pound Burr spent a torturous six months living on 750 calories per day. Emerging at a trim 210 pounds, he landed his first film role, an unbilled bit as Claudette Colbert's dancing partner in Without Reservations (1946). It was in San Quentin (1946), his next film, that Burr found his true metier, as a brooding villain. He spent the next ten years specializing in heavies, menacing everyone from the Marx Brothers (1949's Love Happy) to Clark Gable (1950's Key to the City) to Montgomery Clift (1951's A Place in the Sun) to Natalie Wood (1954's A Cry in the Night). His most celebrated assignments during this period included the role of melancholy wife murderer Lars Thorwald in Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954) and reporter Steve Martin in the English-language scenes of the Japanese monster rally Godzilla (1956), a characterization he'd repeat three decades later in Godzilla 1985.